The al-Qaida terrorist leader who masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks also hatched two plots to assassinate the pope in the Philippines, the Sunday Times of London reports today.
The newspaper reports based on intelligence documents that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, 38, traveled twice to the country to oversee the execution of the plans using either bombs or a high-powered sniper’s rifle.
Mohammed, one of Osama bin Laden’s most senior lieutenants, confessed in a taped interview published in the Sunday Times in September that he was proud of the devastation he had inflicted on America.
The new documents, produced by Philippines intelligence services after an extensive investigation, show that Mohammed used one of his 27 known aliases to enter the country.
Until recently it was thought that the first plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II in January 1995 was the work of a local terrorist group while the second, in 1999, has never been publicly revealed.
According to the documents, Mohammed, who is now head of al-Qaida’s military committee, devised alternative tactics for the assassination. One involved a pipe bomb that was to be placed in a park where the Pope was due to speak. The terrorist team also had high-velocity rifles with laser scopes.